In Defense of Dialogue and Dissent

On Feb. 27, the day before the College Republicans event, professors Manuel Hassassian and Edward Kaufman led a discussion on campus entitled ‘The Role of Israeli and Palestinian Civil Society in Peace Building.’ Although members of the press attended this lecture, it received minimal recognition in the news media, in contrast to Tuesday’s larger and more raucous event.
However, in my opinion it was no less important; in fact, Professor Kaufman openly urged the campus not to import the problems of the Middle East to UC Irvine, but rather to export UCI’s powerful multicultural and pluralistic experience, mutual understanding and civil dialogue to that troubled region. His colleague, Dr. Manuel Hassassian, former dean of students at Bethlehem University, urged that after tempers cooled, the students on both sides of the issue be asked what their goals were for the event and if those goals were worth the animosity the event created.
While the impact of Tuesday’s panel discussion and ensuing debates may not have reached quite as far as the Middle East, I think the event did serve as a very powerful example of how even the most provocative and potentially divisive issues can be aired without disaster and violence following in their wake.
Over the past few years, my confidence in the ability of UCI community members to remain within the bounds of civil debate